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“ In the midst of thine enemies :"-Some understand it of changing the hearts of his enemies, and converting them, as captives, unto his obedience. Others understand the wonderful effect of the power of Christ's kingdom, that he can, by his word and spirit, hold up his church in despite of all the enemies thereof round about. The church ever was, and will be, pestered with divers kinds of adversaries, heretics, and hypocrites, and false brethren, with profaneness, temptations, persecutions, spiritual wickednesses; and, in the midst of all these, the church of Christ groweth as
a lily amongst the thorns.' Now this in medio' noteth two things; dominium plenum,' and dominium securum,' a perfect and full government, without mutilation, without impediment; the church being amongst the wicked as a rock in the midst of the sea, or as a garrison in an enemy's town. • Media dominantur in urbe,' is an expression of such a rule, as can no way be hindered or removed. The church of God is a burdensome stone : they who go about to remove it out of that place where Christ will plant it, shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth should gather together against it. A secure and confident government: so in the scripture-phrase, in the midst, notes confidence and security. When the prophet asked the Shunammite, “Wouldst thou be spoken for to the King, or to the captain of the host ?" she answered, “I dwell amongst mine own people;" that is, I am safe and have enough already. When they of the synagogue would have cast Christ down headlong from the brow of a hill, it is said, that “ he passed through the midst of them, and went his way;" that is, with much confidence, safety, and assurance, he withdrew himself. As the prophet was full of security and quietness, in the midst of the Syrian siege."
The words being thus unfolded, we may observe in them three of Christ's principal regalities, 'sceptrum, solium, and imperium ;' the sceptre, the throne, and the power or government of his kingdom. His sceptre is the word of his gospel, animated by the power of his Holy Spirit, and accompanied with the blessing and authority of God the Father, who sendeth it abroad into the world :--His throne, from whence this his sceptre is extended, Sion, the church of the Jews :His victorious, plenary, and secure government, “ Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies."
d Qui alieni erant, tui esse incipient. Dignare esse Dominus inimicorum tuorum. Hieron. e Zech. xii.3. f 2 Kings iv. 13. & Luke iv. 29. 30. h 2 Kings vi. 14, 16.
First, the sceptre; Here is the gospel and the spirit of Christ. Christ is a shepherd towards his flock the church i: a great shepherd"; that notes his power and majesty over them :- and a good shepherd ?; that notes his care and tenderness towards his sheep. Kings, in the Scripture, are called shepherds to lead, and to feed, and to govern the people. So David is said to have been taken from the sheepfolds, to feed Jacob and Israel“; and thus Christ is a shepherd and a king. “I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David-I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them.”. Prophets and teachers are, in the Scripture, likewise called shepherds o: and so Christ is a shepherd and a bishop ; “ Ye were as sheep going astray, but now ye are returned unto the shepherd and bishop of your souls.”p And therefore we find in the Scripture, that Christ hath two pastoral staves, to note bis great care and double office in his church. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want-I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. "9_" I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.” So then, the rod of Christ's strength, or his strong staff, doth in these several relations note unto us three things: as it is a staff of strength, so it notes the power of Christ :-as it is the sceptre of a king, so it notes the majesty of Christ :-as it is the staff of a bishop or prophet, so it notes the care and superintendency of Christ over his church. So then this first particular of the rod of Christ's kingdom, affords unto us three observations : First, That Christ, in his gospel and spirit, is full of power and strength towards the church. Secondly, That Christ, in his gospel and spirit, is full of glory and majesty towards his church.
i Isai. xl. 11.
* Heb. xii. 20.
r Zech. xi, 7.
I Joho x. 14.
• Jer. xxiii. 1, 4.
m Psal. lxxviii. 71.
pl Pet. ii. 25.
Thirdly, That Christ in his gospel and spirit, is full of care, and of tenderness towards his church.
First, The word of the gospel with the Spirit is full of power and strength. No man will deny, that Christ, in his own person, is full of power. And as the power of a prince is principally seen in his laws, edicts, pardons, and gracious patents; so is the power of Christ wonderfully magnified towards the church in his gospel, which unto us is both a covenant of mercy, and a law of obedience. We may observe how Christ is frequently pleased to honour his gospel with his own titles and attributes. And therefore the apostles speaks of him and his word, as of one and the same thing : “ The word of God is quick and powerful, a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; neither is there any creature which is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him, with whom we have to do.” That which is the · Word' in one verse, is Christ himself' in another; which hath given occasion to some learned men to take the Word' there for the essential Word of God,' or 'the person of Christ himself. We know, that Christ was crucified at Jerusalem ; and yet the apostle' saith, that he was crucified amongst the Galatians. Certainly, “ in that he died, he died but once, unto sin." St. Paul could not do that himself, which he curseth others for doing, “Crucify again the Lord of glory.” So then at Jerusalem he was crucified in his person, and, at Galatia, in the ministry of his word. One and the same crucifying, was as lively set forth in St. Paul's preaching, as it was really acted upon Christ's person: for Christ is as really present to his church now in the spiritual dispensation of his ordinances, as he was corporally present with the Jews in the days of his flesh. And therefore I say it is, that we find the same attributes given to both : “ Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God ";" and the gospel elsewhere “the power of God,” and “the wisdom of God in a mystery y” to them that are perfect. Again, “Christ the Lord of glory?," and the gospel “ the gospel of glory a,” or the glorious gos pel. “ Christ the prince of life b,” yea, “the word of life,
s Heb. iv. 12, 13. y I Cor. ii. 6, 7. rl John i. 1.
t Gal. ii. 1. 21 Cor. ii, 8.
u I Cor. i. 24. al Tim. i. 11.
* Rom. i. 16. b Acts iii. 15.
and the gospel "the word of life ” too. “ Christ a judge,” and “the word of Christ a judge f” too; " the word which I have spoken, the same shall judge you at the last day :"Christ & a Saviour and salvation unto men;
have seen thy salvation :" and the gospel of Christ', a salvation' too; “ We know," saith Christ to the woman of Samaria, “ what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews." The force of the reason leads us to understand by salvation,' the
oracles of God,' which were committed unto that people ; for out of them only it is, that we know what and how to worship, and this is not unusual in holy Scriptures. the word ," saith the apostle,“ spoken by angels, was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward ; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation, which, at the first, began to be spoken by the Lord,” &c. Where we find salvation set in opposition to the word spoken by angels, which was the law of God, or the ministry of condemnation-and therefore it must needs signify the gospel of Christ. “ Be it known unto you,” saith the apostlek to the unbelieving Jews, “ that the salvation of God,” that is, the gospel of God (as appeareth plainly by the like parallel speech in another place') “ is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” So the apostle m saith, that “the engraffed word is able to save the souls of men.” All which, and many other the like particulars note unto us, that as Christ is the power and image of his father, so the gospel is in some sort of Christ. For which reason the apostle, as I conceive, calleth the gospel, the face of Jesus Christ:'_" God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”. Where is it that we behold “the glory of God but in a glass o?" and what is that glass, but " the word of God," as St. James calls it p? Christ is not pleased any other ways ordinarily to exercise his power, or to reveal his glory, but in these ordinances of his which we dispense. Therefore he walketh in his church with a sword
d Phil. ii, 16. e John v. 27. f John xii. 48. & Luke i. 69, 77, and ii. 30. Isai. lxii. 11. Gen. xlix, 18. h John iv. 22. i Heb. ii. 2, 3. 2 Cor. iii. 9. k Acts xxviii. 28. 1 Acts xiii. 46. m James i. 21. n 2 Cor. iv. 6. o 2 Cor. iii. 18. P James i. 23.
in his mouth?,' and with a rod in his mouth", to note that he giveth no greater testification of his strength, than in the ministry of his gospel ;--which is therefore sometimes called a sword,'' a hammer,'' a fire,' sometimes only 'a savour of life and death“,'—to note the mighty working thereof, that can kill as well by a scent as by a wound, as well by a breath as by a blow.
To consider this point a little more distinctly. This power of the gospel of Christ appears in both these regards, as it is a savour of life unto life, and as it is a savour of death unto death,-towards his church who shall be saved, and towards his enemies who shall perish. Many ways, is the gospel of Christ, and his Spirit, a rod of strength unto his church.
First, In their calling and conversion from the power of Satan unto God. Satan is a strong man*; and he is armed, hath a whole panoply and full provision of military instruments, and (which is a great advantage) hath both the first possession, and the full love of the hearts of men before Christ attempts any thing upon them. And therefore that which pulleth' a man from under the paw of such a lion, and forceth him away from his own palace, must needs be much stronger than he. And therefore the apostle' commendeth the power of the Word by this argument, that it is a sword fit to overcome “ principalities, and powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in heavenly places."--Again, the old man in our nature is a strong man too"; a reigning king, which setteth himself mightily against the word and will of Christ, and cherisheth the disease against the remedy. And by that likewise the apostle commendeth the power of the gospel, that it is "mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strong holds, and imaginations or fleshly reasonings." When Christ stilled the winds and the sea with but two words, “ peace, be still,” they were exceedingly amazed at his power, and said one to another, “ What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him b?" The conversion of a man is a far greater work than the stilling of the sea ; that will be some
9 Revel, i. 16. r Isai. xi. 4.
• Eph. vi. 17. t Jer. xxiii. 29. Jer. v. 16. u 2 Cor. ii, 16. * Luke xi. 20, 21. Eph. ii. 2. y 2 Tim. ii. 26. vi. 12, 17. a'Ανδρείοί εσμεν καθ' εαυτών, και κατά της υγείας ημών επιστήμονες. Greg. Naz. Orat. I.
b Mar. iv. 39. 41.